I love the Finnish lakes. They are peaceful and extensive. We camped right next to two sets of lakes on our way down to Jyvaskyla and then further south. The whole experience was one of tranquility despite the cold temperatures for June.
We thought that it might be busy on the campsites as the children were on their 10 week summer holiday. But, the tradition seems to be that they don’t go away until after Midsummer’s Day and we were leaving the country on that day to head for Sweden. So, quiet campsites and generally quiet everywhere.
We found this stop almost by accident. We had seen a flyer in the Arkitkum in Rovaniemi, but decided we probably would not be going anywhere near this route. A closer look at the map and we found it would be a good route down to Jyvaskyla to see some old friends. Searching the internet showed a campsite at the zoo. It was brilliant. On the edge of a forest with footpaths and a fire hut, great WiFi, a fire area and best of all a sauna. It was not very busy and the enclosures at the zoo were very well done; all set within a forest on board walks above the forest floor. The animals in the zoo were mostly indigenous to Finland and the Arctic. It was cold but mostly dry so we were able to have two BBQs and sit out wrapped up in our Rohan ice pack jackets. The campsite is open all year so we may be back one year to experience Finland in the winter snow.
This is a brilliant science and history museum. It focuses on the arctic regions and its peoples. I visited here nearly ten years ago, but this time we cycled to the museum in the cold and drizzle. Well worth a visit and amazingly it was not busy despite it being the children’s school holidays.
It is my first attempt at drawing a polar bear and this one was a stuffed one in the museum! The glass dome is visible from the lakes as you cycle up the slope. Very impressive piece of architecture.
I love the designs of Marimekko. The colours are fantastic and so vibrant and bold. The shops are dotted around Finland and there is one at the Napipiri Village which we cycled to on 11th June. It should only have been a 14 km ride but we managed to miss a signpost so ended up doing 25 km in total. Not too difficult as there was only one small hill just prior to getting to the village. A great smoked salmon lunch and then a leisurely cycle back to the campsite to enjoy a BBQ.
So, the design I have painted is loosely based on a summer dress design for 2014 and I used watercolour paints. I really wish I had taken a small set of acrylic paint tubes to achieve greater vibrancy in the colours but I was trying not to take too much with us.
The Kuksa in the Arctic Circle page is one John bought for me on one of his earlier trips to Finland whilst working. So it is well travelled but John’s original cup had split so a visit to the Martini Knife shop to purchase another Kuksa which will hopefully last for many more years. The use of wood in Finland is great and I think I have fallen in love with the idea of living in a log cabin!!
Well, our journey through Sweden was interesting. The roads were easy to drive and the stop over places in their Restplatz were great and trouble free with all facilities needed for wild camping ie drinking water. Great! The forests are endless and the road view does not differ very much until you go off the main roads into the villages. But we were on a mission to get to Rovaniemi and we did not deviate from the road on the way there. In fact, if you blinked you might have missed the road sign saying Finland as we crossed the border from Sweden. We camped on the banks of the Kemioki River in our second campsite of the trip. Great location but very expensive!!
The houses in Sweden were just how I imagined them. Predominantly red but also a pale yellow. The space here is wonderful. The lakes and trees amazing. As we entered Sweden I saw an elk in the wild. My second viewing. The first time I saw an elk was in Finland whilst on the train between Rovaniemi and Tampere. Apparently, I am very lucky as a friend who lives in Finland has never seen one in the wild.
My next page for my art journal is forming in my head. Something to do with elks. I just need a bit more time to get it down on paper. It is such a busy life travelling!!
We are now heading south wards in Finland and as we head towards Midsummer’s day the temperature near Jyvaskyla is 3C and there is snow in the rain! However, remembering back to the frosts of Sweden, the colours are subtly different than here in Finland and the forest floor is bare compared to the flora in Finland. I think the canopy is denser in Sweden.
We are currently at a campsite in Ranua, where there is a wonderful zoo with the animals mostly indigenous to Finland. It is a great place where we have had walks, wandering through the zoo and had time to get out the BBQ for our vegetarian feasts. However, my journal is still way behind us!! Too much travel and not enough painting. But, I completed another four pages today. I use my digital photos and ephemera picked up along the way. It is a great process to go through even a few days behind as we can relive the journey even whilst we are still on it!
Well, I have never seen the midnight sun before but last night we managed to see it. The sun never sets in Rovaniemi for over a whole month. I thought there might be dusk, but no, it just stays complete daylight for 24 hours. Amazing!
But, today it is only 7C and windy and wet. So unless it cheers up we will not be seeing the midnight sun tonight. Went for a run this morning in a loop over the bridges and along the Kemioki river. John was worried I would be suffering from hypothermia when I got back as I didn’t put a jumper on. I was fine but I could have done with some gloves as my hands were cold. I just had to run faster to keep warm. We are tempted to come South!!!! We have resorted to having the heating on!!!!